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Old 09-11-2015, 06:03   #16
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

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That's great to hear.. I was debating a flight down to Clearwater/Tampa/Sarasota and even maybe trying out Pensacola...What makes the cruising grounds of the west coast so great compared to the east?
The east coast of FL is just a straight line over most of its length and not very interesting. There are a few exceptions: Jacksonville is pretty with some interesting waterways, but I dont know about the sailing community there. Ditto Cape Canaveral area. Things get interesting again (to me) around Miami and into the Keys.

The west coast of FL by contrast is much more convoluted with lots of interesting places to visit and lots of good anchorages. From Tarpon Springs all the way down to the Keys is a great cruising ground. There are a couple of threads on this subject, take a look at those too.

I used to live in Bradenton, on the Manatee River, and loved it.

Pensacola would be a good venue too. Excellent local sailing venue on the bay and good cruising ground all along the FL panhandle all the way over to the Mississippi Sound and up the Rigolets into New Orleans.
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Old 09-11-2015, 06:11   #17
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

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I think we envision ourselves starting with the bahamas and the caribbean because it would be easy sails from place to place and would be a bit of a safety net. Central America is definitely on our list as well. I spent time in Costa Rica and miss the pura vida life! But who knows with more knowledge about sailing and routes that preference may change??
Ive spent the past decade in Central America. Have lived and sailed in Belize, Guatemala, and now Panama. Have traveled/sailed in all other countries in CA. Culturally, I'm not a big fan of CR, though it is a beautiful country (not much of a sailing venue though), but be happy to comment on any specific countries that might interest you.

Got here via Florida-Bahamas-Jamaica-Bay Islands-Belize route so can comment on any of that that interests you.
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Old 09-11-2015, 07:18   #18
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

I wonder why most responses here are focusing on the mainland US. Have you considered Puerto Rico? USVI is bearable for a year. Most places are pretty interesting for the first year or so because it's all new. And you'll be gone before it goes stale.

If you need to stay in the US for some reason, Florida is probably the closest place to meet your criteria. We find it crowded and commercial, but geographically it's well located to get out to the keys and Bahamas.

We like Tampa and St. Pete. Decent little hospital down in Marathon, too.
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:42   #19
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

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The east coast of FL is just a straight line over most of its length and not very interesting. There are a few exceptions: Jacksonville is pretty with some interesting waterways, but I dont know about the sailing community there. Ditto Cape Canaveral area. Things get interesting again (to me) around Miami and into the Keys.

The west coast of FL by contrast is much more convoluted with lots of interesting places to visit and lots of good anchorages. From Tarpon Springs all the way down to the Keys is a great cruising ground. There are a couple of threads on this subject, take a look at those too.

I used to live in Bradenton, on the Manatee River, and loved it.

Pensacola would be a good venue too. Excellent local sailing venue on the bay and good cruising ground all along the FL panhandle all the way over to the Mississippi Sound and up the Rigolets into New Orleans.
This is exciting for us because we just got back from a trip down to the Ft. Lauderdale area for interviews and we weren't totally thrilled. Not completely turned off either but just didn't have that feeling of belonging really.

We did get to meet two amazing cruising couples down there.. shout out to SV Gem 1! Another pair took us on a dingy tour of the waterways and dropped us at the beach. Gotta love cruisers

So yea we'll have to check out the west coast of FL and panhandle.. I have an interview in Pensacola next week. Will work on interviews in Clearwater/St. Petes/Sarasota for next month.

Speaking to that point, anyone have any more detailed info on living in those areas? Would you recommend one over the other in terms of quality of life or boating culture?
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:43   #20
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

An easy place to live is on the west coast of Florida. The east coast also easy place to live as long as you stay north. The further south you go the more hassle.

North of Tarpon Springs the gulf gets shallow but their are live aboards in Crystal River Florida. You can walk from Pete's Pier to the grocery stores. Life is easy but sailing not as good as the Tampa area.

I may pick the Crystal River area just for easy living. (70 miles north of Tampa).

Before I decide I want to check out the Panama Beach area. Oh...the winters get chilly that far north especially the long chilly winter nights.


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Old 09-11-2015, 08:44   #21
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

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Got here via Florida-Bahamas-Jamaica-Bay Islands-Belize route so can comment on any of that that interests you.
Where along the east coast of central america would you recommend the most? What did you like about those areas? Any places to avoid?
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:47   #22
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

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I wonder why most responses here are focusing on the mainland US. Have you considered Puerto Rico? USVI is bearable for a year. Most places are pretty interesting for the first year or so because it's all new. And you'll be gone before it goes stale.

If you need to stay in the US for some reason, Florida is probably the closest place to meet your criteria. We find it crowded and commercial, but geographically it's well located to get out to the keys and Bahamas.

We like Tampa and St. Pete. Decent little hospital down in Marathon, too.
Probably sticking to mainland for the next two years for easy trips back to family in upstate NY for the time being.. definitely going to check out Tampa and St. Petes
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Old 09-11-2015, 09:24   #23
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

You will probably wind up in southern Fla. The pan handle - I spent a winter in Pensacola -temps into low 40s at night. I spent a winter in Ft. Lauderdale, staying at the municipal dock on the New River, right in town, next to a park, with parking included. I don't remember the cost, but it was very reasonable. About a 30 motor to the ocean, 10 hours from the Bahamas.
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Old 09-11-2015, 10:44   #24
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

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Where along the east coast of central america would you recommend the most? What did you like about those areas? Any places to avoid?
East coast of CA:

Belize is a great cruising ground. Ive lived and sailed there for many years and still have areas I would like to explore more (like the aptly named "bad lands" ). Officialdom can be a PITA and it is the most expensive country next to Costa Rica. Stable govt/history and less security issues than most of its CA bretheren.

Guatemala. Absolutely amazing country. Has been my home base since 2006. Limited sailing options in Guate per se, but its a day sail to Belize and an overnight to the Bay Islands. Rio Dulce is the ultimate hurricane hole in the NW Carib with lots of boat services and marinas. Many cruisers keep their boats here for hurricane season and then head out to cruise the region and return. Big cruiser community on the Rio. Guatemala in general is a bit "wild west" for some, it has massive socioeconomic-political issues which are simply intractable problems which will never be solved (IMHO), but the people are wonderful, the history/culture fascinating, and gets my vote for the most stunning beautiful country in CA. Extensive inland travel highly recommended.

Honduras. The Bay Islands are great venue with direct USA flights into Roatan. Each island is unique, not only physically, but culturally. Security situation here is reasonable, but coastal mainland Honduras is best avoided and even given a VERY wide berth when underway. Unfortunate, because we used to really enjoy that coast line too.

Nicaragua. Very interesting coast line, but best avoided by cruisers due to security issues. Very remote and isolated. No sailing community or related services. I do highly recommend travel in the rest of Nica though.

Colombian Islands (off Nicaraguan Coast). Great place to visit, esp Porvenir, but no signicant expat/cruiser community or related services.

Costa Rica. The Carib coast is a bit isolated and only rarely attracts cruisers to my knowledge. No sailing community that I know of. Most expensive country in CA, generally more expensive than living in the USA (several friends who live there guestimate about 30% more). Beutiful geography/nature, but very homogenous and uninteresting culturally (no indegenous culture becaue the Spanish shipped all the males to Peru to mine Inca gold...it was a one way trip where they were worked to death). Massive Disneyland like tourism to make it less appealing.

Panama. Lots of options and lots of pros for expats/cruisers n Panama. We've cruised Panama for several years now and lived part time in the Chiriqui Highlands. East coast has Bocas del Toro and the San Blas, with a few stopping points in between like Portobelo. Several clusters of cruiser communities here and associated services. Moderately expensive (less than CR/Belize, more than Nica/Guatemala/El Salvador). Security issues for cruisers are relatively rare, almost non-existent in the San Blas. Stable govt...Uncle Sam keeping a watchful eye on the Canal helps with that, as does one of the strongest economies in CA. US Dollarized economy is handy too...you can even spend USA coins. No hurricanes is a bonus.
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Old 09-11-2015, 11:17   #25
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

I would think twice about Florida...at least in the beginning. With all the rules, restrictions and the fact that most areas don't like liveaboards. It may give you the wrong taste for living on a boat. Others will give you recommendations, try them first then come on down, after you know the ropes or lines...
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Old 09-11-2015, 12:16   #26
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

All my boats have stayed in warm waters summer or winter, boats seem easier to cool then to heat,I hate cold floors! lol
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Old 09-11-2015, 12:39   #27
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

We cruised St Pete area this year. Also Ft Lauderdale. I'm not a big fan of Ft Lauderdale (my opinion,..that's all).
My favorite is Tampa/St Pete/Clearwater/etc... Great airport access, lots of places to sail and explore, people are nice, living is cheap, tons of marinas and live-aboards. Lot's of boats to buy up and down the Gulf Coast. You can get to FtMeyers, Keys easily for excursions. It's also easy for people to come and visit!
However, watch your draft...lot's of skinny water in/around that area to watch out for!
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Old 09-11-2015, 13:53   #28
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

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Cool. We will be definitely planning a trip down to that area next month. Have to start researching the hospitals.

Sounds like Florida meets our criteria the best.. any other parts of Florida you guys recommend besides Tampa and the surrounding areas?

What about the panhandle? Naples?

  1. I'm from Canada and selected Jacksonville/St Augustine rather than Gulf Coast and further south due to:-
  2. Rarely hit by hurricanes.
  3. Much cooler during the summer.
  4. Lower marina costs than Palm Beach to Miami
  5. Easy access to Bahamas.
  6. Good low cost shopping.
  7. Infrastructure newer & more open spaces.
  8. Few opening bridges if any.
  9. Good location for my wife's business.
  10. Cultural activities; theatre, libraries, etc.
Could probably list many more; that's sufficient to get the idea why we're here. I should add- very active community ~~ My wife started a sailing club in St Aug. two weeks ago and has 30 members already.

Welcome!
Salty St. Augustine Sailors C.J.Jones, Organizer

Come join us for fun times on and off the water! Sailors of all type welcome!
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Old 09-11-2015, 15:16   #29
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

I'm a little prejudice, but Jacksonville and the St Augustine area are worth checking out.
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Old 09-11-2015, 15:29   #30
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Re: Best locations to learn to liveaboard?

The Carolinas are very nice with friendly people. I spend my summers there and winters in the Bahamas.
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